Saturday, March 07, 2009

March 9 Building Art From Historical Reference and Building Things That Don't Fall Down

I am finding it difficult to describe the neo-baroque rearrangement of samples in the context of cultural history by artist J. Morgan Puett. Her work ranges event, installation, food, architecture and clothing as well as creating environments for artist residency and social practice in the form of workshop. I would just say that the work has great potential at reaching the contemporary art nay sayers in the culture wars.

The best art engages the viewer emotionally and intellectually. The intellectual engagement is sometimes over dependent on a prior knowledge of insider language learned in art school or time consuming engagement with the contemporary art world. Using that language wisely is essential, but the artist will be more effective if the casual viewer or child can also connect with an idea in the art.

Emotional engagement can enter by association with previously tagged experience for the viewer. It can also enter in the interplay between the familiar and the novel, responses I'm convinced have a biological basis in brain receptors we all share. The familiar is reassuring comfort food, gem├╝tlichkeit, family, home, tradition. The novel is the shock, joy, curiosity, thrill or unexpected humor of the new.

All idea and no emotion is a sad combination, doubly tragic in the absence of beauty.

To see if you agree that this artist successfully combines it all, see her website and come to her talk. It is part of the PSU Monday Night Lecture Series. Look for the sandwich board sign to find the room. Talk in Shattuck Hall, Room 212 or the Annex out front, 1914 SW Park Avenue, at the corner of SW Broadway and Hall on the PSU campus. 7:30PM Free

Structural engineers use calculation and models to help make sure things built up don't fall down. No guarantees though. It is very important that your project not become a case study in a book like Why Buildings Fall Down. This is especially relevant here where we face a very powerful earthquake every 300-600 years at the Cascadia subduction fault. The last earthquake was in about 1700. (If you are interested in earthquakes, and use the Firefox browser, take a look at eQuake Alert)

Tonight senior structural engineer Anne Monnier discusses her work at KPFF Consulting Engineers, the firm that does most of the structural engineering work for large buildings in Portland.

Monnier grew up in a Danish engineering family and took and engineering degree in Denmark. Her discussion reviews recent projects in the context of seismic, green and sustainable and her view of what we need to be focused on next.

So if you want to know how the 12 lane bridge over the Columbia River built on 150 feet of silt is going to perform in an earthquake while you are traveling over it on your bike or the light rail, this talk may engage your curiosity.

The event is part of the Bright Lights discussion series. It is at Jimmy Mak's, 221 NW 10th Ave. 5:30PM, Talk 6. Free